Statement by Ambassador Flynn at Arria Meeting on ISIL Accountability
Statement12 May 2021
Thank you Chair, and I would like to the co-hosts & co-sponsors for organising today’s meeting, which provides a valuable platform to highlight important milestones towards accountability for the crimes of ISIL and to share the lessons from UNITAD.
Nadia, your words, your bravery and your relentless quest for justice have helped us reach this juncture, where we can welcome the completion of work on two priority case briefs which Special Adviser Khan has stated contain clear and convincing evidence that ISIL committed genocide against the Yazidi as a religious group and directly and publicly incited genocide against Shia Muslims at Tikrit Academy.
As you have set out so powerfully, Nadia, women and children are amongst those who have suffered the most under ISIL. Ireland has been clear in its condemnation of the human rights violations committed against Yazidis by ISIL in Iraq and has consistently stressed the need for accountability.
Chair, we have heard today that legal accountability for ISIL’s crimes would have a dramatic impact on the Yazidi community’s recovery. This is why it is so important that we now move from evidence gathering to evidence-based trials. We encourage both UNITAD and Iraq, therefore, to continue to work on means of sharing evidence that provides assurances on the use of the death penalty.
We again welcome the introduction of the Yazidi Female Survivors Law in recent weeks and urge the Government to prioritise implementation of the provisions stipulating compensation for survivors.
Holding ISIL to account for their heinous crimes should not lead to the re-traumatisation of victims or vulnerable witnesses of these crimes. Our briefers this afternoon have demonstrated how it is possible to pursue such investigations in a way that is not only efficient and effective, but also responsive to the needs and rights of survivors and vulnerable witnesses.
We welcome the careful work UNITAD has undertaken in this regard, such as the Trauma-Informed Investigations Field Guide and making your Standard Operating Procedures publically available.
Sharing best practices in this way is essential to ensure we are doing our utmost to give survivors and victims, including that of conflict-related sexual and gender based violence, confidence in the system.
Chair, increasingly, investigators are faced with the challenge of efficiently analysing and cataloguing massive amounts of digital evidence, including user-generated evidence.
Such challenges have been met with new innovations, including projects such as the International Bar Association’s eyeWitness project or the collation of user-generated evidence by the International Impartial and Independent Mechanism in Syria.
UNITAD have used AI, machine learning and analytic tools to mine large swathes of ISIL’s documentation and ensured their investigations continued.
Finally, Chair, our hope is that these innovations and the other advances shared with us today, including the “transformational enhancements” of the Zeteo Project can be added to the toolkit used by other accountability and investigative mechanisms to close the accountability gap.